Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

"All You Do Is Sit Back and Collect the Rent," Right Mayor Speaker?

Just for fun!, Mayor Speaker, Unintended consequences

Ah, the joys of rental property. Most people's perception is that you just sit back and collect the rent. Maybe that is what our Mayor Jeff Speaker thought when he ventured into the landlord business? I don't think he is thinking that now. From the article:

Asked why he bought the Milwaukee apartment building instead of one in Brookfield, Speaker said he couldn’t afford one in Brookfield.

“It’s an investment, and they can be fairly lucrative if you have a good tenant mix,” Speaker said of Milwaukee rental properties.

He said he would like to get tenants who are on rent assistance “because you’re guaranteed your money.” But he said he couldn’t do that until he made more repairs.

“I’m trying to make a difference down there,” he said...

...He wants to hold annual barbecues there.

My husband and I were landlords for a brief time in our younger days. We bought the tiny Polish flat my husband lived in during his college days from his landlady. It was divided into 3 units and we lived in the upper front after we were married. A few years later, we purchases a second property from our former landlady. Hey, no money down, what did we have to lose except a lot of sweat equity.

People teased us a lot about being the land barons, knowing how we were working our tails off and operating on a shoestring. We repaired the numerous code violations and painted, refinished floors, and transformed them into rental units that decent people were happy to rent for a reasonable price. 

I had to smile when the article about Speaker's rental property violations mentioned that he planned a barbecue when it was all finished, because that is what we did! It was in celebration of our white trash tenants moving out. (We inherited them with the purchase--they were on welfare by the way--our landlady must have liked the rent assistance angle too?) 

The neighbors and other tenants were jubilant when the two families moved out.

Now the JS Editorial: Keeping Promises  compares Brookfield standards with the City of Milwaukee. (H/T Fairly Conservative) Ouch.

Later the article speaks to the heart of the landlord business when purchasing on the cheap:

“We recognize it’s difficult to bring it out of a crappy condition into a compliant condition,” Todd Weiler, spokesman for the city’s Department of Neighborhood Services, told Sink.

...But Weiler made another good point about buying a building in bad condition: “You should know that when you buy it and have hammer and nail ready,” he said. “It’s time. The proof will be in the pudding. We’ll see what happens to his promises.”

Truer words were never spoken. Both properties we purchased had been neglected for quite some time. Our Riverwest Polish flat was not so bad. The landlady left us alone in exchange for cheap rent, and so, we had fixed up our interior before we purchased. Once it was ours, the "hammer and nail" were always with us and we brought it back from the grave. Although it never was a great Milwaukee style flat, it did have a certain curb appeal when we finished it.

The second property, the huge flat and cottage, really needed work (1st photo). The neighbor lady was so anxious to get rid of our bad tenants there, she offered to help us fix up their units if we could get rid of them. She was faithful to her word.

I would like to say that I never have seen such neglect since our Milwaukee Landlord days, but the fixer upper we purchased in Brookfield in 1986 was just about as bad if not worse! Lots more sweat equity here on Kinsey Park Drive. Maybe that is why I'm still so tired? 

I suspect that with rental property, like boat ownership, the happiest 2 days are the day you purchase and the day you sell. At least it was for us.

As for making a "fairly lucrative" investment? I suggest a really solid mutual fund! 


Related Posts: This was the Polish flat I referred to in Remembering the BIG CHILLS the flat pictured was before my dad helped us paint. 

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